target competitor audience on facebook

Target Your Competitor’s Audience on Facebook with This Simple Trick!

Getting your targeting right in a Facebook ad campaign can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that bombs. But figuring out what interests to target and how much you should rely on lookalike audiences can be confusing.

That’s where doing a few hours of market research can really help. If you can target the same people that the successful campaigns of your competitors target, that can give you an advantage.

This is a simple method for figuring out what audiences your competitors are targeting so that you have a place to start. This also works well for existing campaigns that you may want to tweak.

How to Find Out Who Your Competitors Are Targeting on Facebook and Instagram

There’s an easy hack that I don’t see many people talking about that can help you work out who your competitors are targeting. I’ll be going over that in a moment.

First, you need to know that in my experience there’s no way to know 100% which audiences your competitors are advertising to, but this is a good way to gather data and get a good feel for what’s happening in your market with people who are actually spending money on Facebook and Instagram ads.

We’ll be using your OWN Facebook and Instagram feeds for this technique.

This technique works the best if you regularly visit pages and websites that are in your target market. For instance, because I follow other Facebook ads experts and because I’m into my pets I end up getting a lot of ads about Facebook ads and dogs.

You want to be able to see your competitors ads in your feed, and that means interacting with their pages and websites so that you get their ads.

Pro Tip: Facebook can work out what your interests are by the actions you take on their site and on other websites. So, if you want to start seeing ads from your competitors I recommend you go to a handful of their websites and like their Facebook pages. But don’t go to every single one. That way you’ll get a broad variety of types of targeting that you can look at in your feed.

Let’s take a look at an ad that’s appearing in my feed for a company called Jonny’s Sister. I’ve never heard of this company before, but their ad is showing personalized dog bones.

Facebook ad for Jonny's Sister

This ad is targeted pretty well because I am interested in dogs.

To find out WHY I’m getting this ad, I just have to click the three little dots at the top of the ad.

How to find how Jonny's Sister is advertising to me on Facebook

Those three dots will open a box that shows why I’m getting this ad.

Why I'm seeing this Facebook ad.

You can see here that I’m getting this ad because Facebook thinks I’m interested in pets. That’s the targeting option that Jonny’s Sister is using! If I’m in the dog niche, then I just found out one of the audiences that my competitor is targeting!

When I find this out, I’ll note it in a spreadsheet along with the company and landing page.

This is extremely valuable information, but because I’m only looking at advertisers on my own feed it is limited. To get a more complete picture I need to look at multiple advertisers. If you scroll through your Facebook feed for 20 minutes you should see plenty of ads to look at as long as you are active in the niche that you are targeting.

Here’s another ad for dogs that I’m seeing in my feed.

Why I'm seeing the SpiritDog Training Facebook Ad

If I open up those three little dots you can see that they are targeting Dogs as one of their interest audiences. I’ll put that in my spreadsheet as well.

Let’s take a look at another one. This is an ad for a safety product for a dog to use when hiking.

Fido Pro Facebook ad

This one is interesting because they are targeting multiple interests. You’ll see in the “why you’re seeing this ad” section that it says Pets, Dog walking, and more.

To find out what the “and more” is you can click the arrow next to that section and Facebook will tell you.

Why I'm seeing the Fido Pro Facebook ad

In this case the advertiser is using the interests pets, dog walking, and dog harness. I’ll put these in on my spreadsheet.

Once I’ve gathered data from as many ads in my space as I can find, I analyze that data looking for trends so that I can plan new tests for my own campaigns.

I may have never thought of dog walking or dog harness as potential targets. Now that I know about them I can try them out if I have a related product.

Let’s take a look at few other examples that aren’t dog related.

This is an ad I’m getting for a fancy camera tripod. It’s well targeted considering that I use tripods all the time to make the videos for my YouTube channel. A tripod is something I use all the time in my regular life.

Why I'm seeing the edelkrone Facebook ad

You’ll notice something different with this particular targeting. This company is advertising to people who may be “similar to their customers.” That means I’m in a lookalike audience.

This is also great information, because it shows me that lookalike audiences might work well in the camera equipment niche.

Here’s another one for a plastic bottle farm. This one is interesting. Let’s take a look and see WHY I’m getting this ad.

Why I'm seeing the bottle farm Facebook ad.

You can see this one also has me in a lookalike audience.

Resource: If you don’t know how to set up lookalike audiences, I’ve written a current guide with the post “A New Approach to Facebook Lookalike Audiences”. Check it out!

I’m going to show you a few more examples so that you know what the different results mean.

This ad is for a software that can be used with Facebook ads. Since Facebook ads are what I do for a living, I’m not surprised I’m getting this ad. But lets open it up and find out why Facebook is showing this to me.

Hyros Facebook ad

You’ll see here that I visited the Hyros site and if I click on the arrow next to that information I’ll find out exactly when I visited.

Why I'm seeing the Hyros Facebook ad.

This can give you some interesting data, because you can get an idea of how long of a window people are targeting with their custom audiences. This visit was almost 5 months ago, so this company is using a large time window to create their custom audience.

I’ll note that on my spreadsheet as well.

Resource: To learn more about custom audiences please visit my post on custom audiences here.

What To Do With Your Competition Targeting Research

Once you have your spreadsheet filled out with 20 or so of your competitors targeting information you’ll start to get an idea of what they are doing and it will help you to figure out what to test for targeting yourself. At that point you want to create new targeting tests for your most successful ads. You do this at the adset level of your account.

The custom audience field is where you put your custom audience and lookalike campaigns, The detailed targeting is where you put your interests.

How to use your Facebook ad competitive research.

Sometimes this type of competitive research can make the difference between a break even or losing campaign and turn it into one that makes money. It might also make a winning campaign even better. It’s worth doing.

Knowing How Facebook Is Targeting You by Interest

I think it’s also useful to understand how Facebook targeting works on an individual level. Facebook compiles tons of data on all of its users. You can see what they think you are interested in by clicking the bottom of this screen that shows you all of the interests Facebook is targeting you for. Facebook likes to bury this data, so you have to go through three screens to find it.

Why you see specific Facebook ads.

When you click on “review all your interests” it will bring up all the things that Facebook thinks your interested in and that’s how you get targeted for ads.

A list of things Facebook thinks I'm interested in.

Every single person on Facebook has a similar profile and Facebook combines all the people who like “dog walking” into a single group to show ads to. You can tailor your own ad experience by removing interests that aren’t relevant to you.

More Free Facebook Ads Training

There is nothing I like better than to see business owners increase their ROI with Facebook Ads. In order to help business owners succeed with Facebook ads I’ve created a FREE webinar training that you can register for here.

Free Facebook ads training

When you attend this webinar you’ll learn:

  • 3 different Facebook ad strategies that we use every day. These strategies have generated millions of dollars in revenue and are tried and proven to work.
  • How to customize the Facebook ads strategy to your particular business. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to Facebook ads.
  • How Facebook and Instagram have changed and how to adjust your ad strategy to what works in 2021.

Video Tutorial: Targeting Your Competitors Audience for Facebook Ads

In this video I go over how to target your competitors audiences with your Facebook ads with a little known and simple hack.

The Bottom Line on Doing Competitive Research for Facebook Ad Targeting

Targeting responsive people with your Facebook and Instagram ads can make your campaigns successful. This easy hack can give you insight into who your competitors are targeting and help you to make your own ads more successful!